Much Dithering in Little Botheringham – 9

‘Much Dithering in Little Botheringham’ is an everyday tale of village life and vampires, from Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook.

A couple of hours later, Em put out her best crystal glasses, a platter of cheese and fruit and a bottle of exceedingly nice sherry. Then she sat down to wait. It wasn’t many minutes before a perfunctory tap on the door heralded her visitor. The bishop’s secretary/supernatural liaison officer came in, walking very softly. Em reconsidered the sherry, opting for her best brandy instead. She poured two goodish snifters but said nothing.
“We have a problem Emmeline.”
“Aside from the bats thing?”
He took a fortifying swig of brandy before replying. “Yes. That would be easily dealt with. But.”
“But Doug Turner isn’t quite what he seems to be?”
“Indeed he isn’t. Only…”
“Only what?”
“What indeed? I was hoping you could help me there.”
“If you are sniffing around whether or not he’s one of mine. I can set your mind at ease there. He isn’t.”
“Oh. I rather thought that would explain why he wants rid of the bats.”
“Why would….” Em waved her hands distractedly. “Never mind. You think he’s a supe. I think he’s a supe. My friends think there is something not right about him. That leaves two questions. What is he? And why the heck isn’t he registered?”
“In a nutshell. That’s about the size of it. And it is disturbing.” He took a deep breath before continuing. “We will find out what is happening. Bishop Enoch is not about to have an unregistered supernatural being on his turf, so this will be resolved quite quickly. However. In the meantime…”
“Will I and mine keep an eye on him?”
“Yes. But. Keep your distance and no heroics. Whatever it is feels insane to me.”
“Yes. I’m not about to get in a fight with an unknown quantity. I’ll just put the Indian sign on him. Now eat some cheese if you are going to pilot that stupid little car of yours after a stiff brandy.”
When he had gone, moving as quietly as a wraith, Em cleared away the remains of his repast before staring fixedly at the phone. It didn’t ring. Instead a car horn tooted merrily outside. Agnes had arrived.
“I was on my way home,” she said accusingly.
“This is important.”
Agnes subsided into a chair and Em put the kettle on. Once they were provided with tea Agnes leaned her elbows on the table.
“Tell me then.”
Em outlined the salient points of the evening. Agnes’ eyes narrowed and her chin seemed more prominent as she took in the implications. 
“Right. I’ll make sure the girls know he’s under suspicion. And you keep your bloody distance until we know what we’re up against. Now shut up while I compose a text.”
She got out her phone and her thumbs flew. Em watched, amazed as always by how fast her oldest friend typed – or texted if that was a verb. When Agnes put her phone down Em grinned at her.
“How do you do that so fast?”
“Practice. Now. Tonight’s meeting. The Crapper woman turned up. She’s a bloody mess. Kind of okay underneath but a jumble of insecurities, worries, and angst. Depressive if I don’t miss my guess. I’m sure she’ll be a worthy regular member but certainly not recruit material. And. She sat next to Lilian who says she smelled Harmsley-Gunn.”
“Yes, well that miserable old bastard was bound to be sniffing around. Anything else of consequence?”
“Yes. There is something not right at the housing association. People are being threatened with eviction.”
“Are they indeed? On what grounds?”
Agnes showed her teeth. “That’s what we need to find out. Fortunately I have a great niece who works in the council offices.” Agnes’ phone bleeped four times. “Right. That’s the reverend under surveillance. Now I’m off home.”
She bent to kiss Em’s cheek before bustling away. Em grinned at her departing back.

Part 10 of Much Dithering in Little Botheringham by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook, will be here next week.

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